The Meaning of "Relationship" in Interpersonal Communication

By Richard L. Conville; L. Edna Rogers | Go to book overview
3. If it is, then is one primary feature of all discourse or communicating its ontological dynamic, its function as world defining or identity negotiating?
4. Moreover, if the human world is co-constructed discursively, is tensionality one of its primary characteristics? Was Heidegger ( 1972) right that Being is always both emerging-and-receding? Are human realities, as Buber might have put it, fundamentally between, affected by the other's active shaping? Is all utterance, as Volosinov argued, response? Might we, therefore, conclude, as Godzich ( 1994) argues (following Nietzsche), that "to speak is to construct, to falsify, and therefore to lie, and to tell the truth" (p. 139)?
5. What implications emerge from this tensional, communicative ontology? Are all understandings of communication (theories, research findings) incomplete, and does each conceal even as it reveals? If so, does this constitute a profound justification for critical theorizing and for what some critical theorists call deconstruction ( Derrida, 1978; Lyotard, 1988)?
6. Less radically, must students of relationships-understood-ontologically acknowledge in their thinking, research designs, and theorizing that relationship cannot be adequately comprehended from within a subject-object paradigm and that hypostatizing this phenomenon distorts it, because it is event more than structure or object? Are communication studies most appropriately studies of this event?

Readers may derive additional questions from these narratives. Minimally, however, it should be clear that many of the intellectual forebears of both those who contributed to and those who will read this volume have attempted to study relationships relationally and that we can be informed by their efforts.


NOTES
1.
Although he is only cited once, M. Lane Bruner has contributed substantially to this chapter. I have drawn important insights from our conversations and his writing.
2.
My translation. Both translators of I and Thou, Ronald Gregor Smith and Walter Kaufmann, render das Man as "man" and Verhalien as "attitude" rather than the less-psychologistic "orientation." Smith's translation also obscures the constitutive claim about speaking in sentence eight.
3.
Buber argues that the two prior alternatives, broadly speaking, are individuality ( Freud) and sociality ( Marx).
4.
This analysis draws liberally from Allen L. Clark ( 1976). Clark was a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington when he died suddenly in 1975. His dissertation in progress included an analysis of Buber's account of the

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